ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (8): 1319-1327.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2014.01319

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The Origin of Loss Aversion

LI Bin;XU Fuming;WANG Wei;ZHANG Hui;LUO Hanbing   

  1. (School of Psychology, Central China Normal University; Key Laboratory of Human Development and Mental Health of Hubei Province; Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU), Ministry of Education, Wuhan 430079, China)
  • Received:2013-12-23 Online:2014-08-15 Published:2014-08-15
  • Contact: XU Fuming


Loss aversion refers to a phenomenon that the disutility of a loss is larger than the utility of an equivalent gain. Its origin can be explained from the aspects of neuroeconomics and evolutionary psychology. The brain mechanisms of loss aversion are divided into two systems—the subjective value evaluation system mainly including striatum and prefrontal cortex, which is associated with the assessment of subjective value; the emotional arousal system mainly including amygdala and insula, which is related to negative emotions like disgust. Under the framework of evolutionary psychology, the present paper reviews the researches of animal behavioral decision-making to explore the evolutionary history of loss aversion, and then summarizes its evolutionary explanations based on related evolutionary theories. Finally, the deficiencies existing in current research and the directions for future research are discussed.

Key words: loss aversion, subjective value evaluation system, emotional arousal system, evolutionary psychology